The Reluctant Exerciser

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Relucant Exerciser

I was a reluctant exerciser. Not that I disliked exercise per se. It’s just that I sucked at it! You name the sport; I sucked at it. You know that fat kid, that’s always last to be chosen for teams at school? The kid who wears glasses (from age 4!) and has what was known in my day as “butter-fingers? That kid was me.

There I’ve said it, I was a fat child! (In those days, people liked to say “plump”. But honestly, to me plump sounds like a juicy roast chicken or a well-rounded plum, neither of which I aspire to be.) So, I in the spirit of calling a spade a spade. I was an overweight kid. – Not big enough to earn the title of the class fatty but too corpulent to fit in with the athletic, skinny types. Add to that my complete lack of eye-hand-ball coordination, and you will begin to understand my aversion for exercise.

Now, that doesn’t mean I was a sedentary couch-potato. I count myself lucky to have grown up in a pre-television/computer/cellphone, pre “mum’s taxi” generation. Movement itself was natural to us. I walked, played games, (hop-scotch, on-on) swung in swings and rode the merry-go-round like every other child. But, I avoided institutionalized exercise at all costs. After all, who wants to do something they repeatedly fail at?

I became adept at avoiding; an art that I perfected in “gym” class;, that mandatory period in every school week where exercise was foisted on every school going child. Almost invariably, at some point in this lesson we would be lined up to take turns at running, climbing or leaping over some or other ghastly apparatus. That weekly torture that was labelled “gym class” soon became the dread of my life.

My solution, keep retreating to the back of the line in an attempt to avoid the ignoble embarrassment of having to clamber over the equipment (or crawl underneath). I developed this tactic in junior school and persisted with it right through high school. To date, the only class I ever flunked was physical education.

Avoidance, however, came it a cost. It meant I never got to practice the very things I needed to practice, which, in turn, meant I never improved. (Subsequently, life has taught me to embrace the things that challenge me. When faced with a seemingly insurmountable wall, start climbing. Sure your feet will slip and time and time again you’ll find yourself back at the starting block. But keep going at it. You’ll end up surprising yourself (and developing skills you never thought possible).

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